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The sanity of King George

Britain's Prince Charles thinks his ancestor King George III _ that's the one who sounds pretty awful in the Declaration of Independence _ is getting a bum rap from history, and he's going on TV to say so. In excerpts from the BBC's Timewatch docu

mentary that were released Monday, the prince says George (1738-1820) might have calmed American revolutionaries if a royal visit across the Atlantic had been possible in 1776. George, the prince says, was one of Britain's most dutiful, cultured and misunderstood rulers, "yet history remembered him above all as the "mad king' or the "king who lost America' _ this is a travesty."

Stuck in muck

Two men fleeing police in North Carolina were captured after they ran across a muddy lake bed, lost their shoes and got mired in the

muck. Kevin Chawlk, 17, and Richard Neri, 20, got about a quarter of a mile across the lake in near freezing temperatures early Saturday before they got stuck. It took rescuers three hours to get the men out. One was wearing just a T-shirt and shorts. "They'd have died if we hadn't found them," said East Spencer police Sgt. James Schmierer. "A couple of idiots is what they are." Police began chasing the men in their car after they were clocked at 67 mph in a 45 mph zone, authorities said. The car eventually crashed into a tree and the men jumped out and ran into the woods. Neri was charged with driving with a revoked license and fleeing to elude arrest. He was jailed on

$15,000 bail after being treated at a hospital. Chawlk was not charged.


Dateline: Mars

"SPIRIT' SHOULD ROLL AGAIN: The Mars rover Spirit's failure to follow orders from Earth was beginning to look a lot like a computer memory glitch familiar to many earthly computer users, engineers at the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported Monday. Somebody forgot to dump old files _ leaving an electronic clutter so confusing that at one point the rover began reporting

data it thought it had gathered on Mars in 2053. But NASA officials said they were increasingly confident that Spirit, like its healthy robotic twin, Opportunity, would be ready to roll by mid February. Because both rovers probably have the same tendency to accumulate useless files, once a solution is developed for Spirit, it will be applied to Opportunity to head off the problem.

"LAST RESORT' FOR "BEAGLE 2': As Europe's first Mars probe remained stubbornly silent, British scientists announced a "last resort" plan Monday of switching off the missing Beagle 2's computer system for an overhaul. Beagle 2 has not been heard from since it separated from the mother ship in mid December. The British-built lander was due to put down on the Red Planet on Christmas Day. Colin Pillinger, lead scientist on the Beagle 2 program, said his team would ask NASA to send a command from its Mars Odyssey orbiter today to tell Beagle 2 to switch off its own computer and reload its software.


When insects attack, corn plants release chemicals into the air that not only attract predators of the pests, but warn nearby plants, a research team reports this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (